President Obama’s birth certificate is a surer thing than Donald Trump’s net worth.
Trump’s claim that he will file a financial statement detailing his billions if he decides to run for president is a clear sign he is not planning to run for president. Surely, Trump would not invite that kind of scrutiny, preferring to keep the world guessing.
Trump has sued a New York Times editor who wrote a book suggesting Trump was not really a billionaire. He also has admitted to exaggerating his net worth. Now Trump says he is worth “whatever I feel.” Click here to read more on that frothy statement.
Trump is a man who will do anything for attention, whether it’s offering to buy a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, claiming Obama’s U.S. birth is suspect, or threatening to run for president.
This bluster has been going on for a long time. Read on to see what I wrote about the controversial book “TrumpNation,” in 2005, which claimed the guy was only worth $150 million to $250 million and detailed his many financial woes over the years, including multiple Trump casino bankruptcies.
Oct. 25–Many things on reality TV shows are not real. That probably includes Donald Trump‘s billions.
Trump‘s real net worth is probably in the range of $150 million to $250 million, according to Timothy L. O’Brien, author of “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald,” which hit some Denver bookshelves last week.
“He’s the P.T. Barnum of the modern era,” said O’Brien, a New York Times reporter who has frequently interviewed the alleged billionaire. “He’s become a front man for other people’s money.”
Today, Trump, 60, is the star of TV’s inexplicably popular show “The Apprentice.” But in the early 1990s, Trump was on the brink of personal bankruptcy, with $900 million in debts. In 1992, three Trump casinos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And last year, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts filed Chapter 11.
At the time, Trump told reporters his casino’s bankruptcy was just another success.
“Bankruptcy was a success? I mean, who says that?” O’Brien asked me. “He has this sort of Orwellian approach to business language and reality that allows him to skate past disaster after disaster.”
These days, Trump claims a net worth of $5 billion to $6 billion. Forbes magazine pegs it at $2.6 billion.
“Who really knows?” said O’Brien. “The larger issue is why it’s so important for him to claim membership in the billionaires club and how he’s gotten away with doing that for quite a long time.”
Putting a valuation on a private portfolio of debts and assets is tricky.
Forbes relies on estimates from the fat cats it covers. But such estimates are dicey coming from a man obsessed with his Forbes ranking, said O’Brien.
“Donald insisted on impossibly high figures for his net worth and then, in a faux fit of complaining, settled for an estimate that Forbes convinced itself was conservative — even though it was often wildly high anyway,” O’Brien wrote.
Forbes removed Trump from the list from 1990 to 1995 after a $2.6 billion gap emerged between its estimates of Trump‘s wealth and the reality exposed by Trump‘s near-collapse.
“Once a billionaire, Trump‘s net worth may actually have dropped to zero,” Forbes reported.
“Was he ever a billionaire?” O’Brien wrote. “Maybe his net worth just stayed the same?”
Trump dismisses O’Brien‘s estimates as coming from detractors.
” ‘You can go ahead and speak to guys who have 400-pound wives at home who are jealous of me,’ ” O’Brien quoted Trump. ” ‘But the guys who really know me know I’m a great builder.’”
Trump is not so much a builder as a brand name. He doesn’t own many of the projects that bear his name. He, more or less, leases his name to the real owners, who believe it will command a premium in condo sales, particularly because Trump is a “famous billionaire.”
One of Trump‘s organizations has submitted a proposal to become the master developer of the Denver Union Station site in Lower Downtown.
Trump‘s proposal is only six paragraphs long. But so far, it’s being taken seriously, said Liz Orr, who was recently named executive director for the Union Station executive oversight committee.
Orr has not read any of Trump‘s books: “The Art of the Deal,” “Think Like a Billionaire” or “How to Get Rich.” Will she take the time to read “TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald”?
“Given my current position, yes.”
Anthony Accetta, a financial investigator who has analyzed New York construction projects for years, says Trump‘s projects are overhyped and overpriced. Accetta of Denver says Trump is a stiff.
“Trump, as a developer, is famous for not paying his bills and for reneging on contracts,” Accetta said. “His mere presence doesn’t guarantee anything but a lot of angst and anxiety from contractors looking to get paid.”
Recent newspaper articles heralding Trump‘s interest in Denver have played right into Trump‘s hands, Accetta said.
“Trump thinks we’re all a bunch of hicks in the sticks, and that all he has to do is wave his magic wand and all the idiots in Denver are going to run to his project,” Accetta said.
Of course, given his success as a shameless self-promoter, Trump could be right.
Al Lewis‘ column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Respond to Al at denverpostbloghouse.com/lewis, 303-820-1967, or email@example.com.
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